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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Busy Weekend!

With SCENT OF MAGIC being released today, I'd thought I'd squeeze in a bunch of local book signings this weekend to help promote the book and to take advantage of the holiday rush.  While I would love to travel all over the world to meet my readers, I'm staying close to home during this busy time of year.  Sorry about that!

I'm posting my schedule below just in case you happen to be in central PA this weekend or in early January  :)  Or think you'd like to take a road trip and come hang out and chat with me.  I'm also posting it because not everyone gets my newsletter or opens it right away (I know - hard to believe isn't it?).

Schedule:

December 21, 2012 Book Signing at http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/store/2916 Barnes & Noble Booksellers (Red Rose Commons, 1700 H Fruitville Pike, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 17601, 717-290-8171). 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

December 22, 2012 Book Signing at http://www.cupboardmarker.com  Cupboard Makers Books (157 N. Enola Road, Routes 11 & 15, Enola, Pennsylvania, 17025, 717-732-7288). 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  I'll be signing with Jeri Smith-Ready!!

December 22, 2012 Book Signing at  http://www.mountainsidebooks.com  MountainSide Books & Gifts (2260 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 17110, 717-972-0968). 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

December 23, 2012 Book Signing at http://www.booksamillion.com Books A Million (828 Park City Center, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 17601, 717-299-7201). 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

January 5, 2013 Book Signing at http://www.booksamillion.com Books A Million (298 Exton Square Mall, Exton, Pennsylvania, 19341, 610-363-1156) 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

January 12, 2013 Book Signing at http://www.booksamillion.com Books A Million (5125 Jonestown Road, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 17112) 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

I don't know what's up with the formatting - it refuses to change.  Oh well.

I hope to see you!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Blog Tour Update - Scent of Magic

It's been a busy week of promotion!  In case you missed the news, here's a re-cap:

Week 1 of the SCENT OF MAGIC blog tour started on Monday.  My publisher is giving away an amazing prize package and you can enter to win this at any of these stops (US/Canada only), and you can win a copy of SCENT OF MAGIC at these stops as well - a few are open to international readers (see below).

Here are the stops:

Dec. 10th - Parajunkee - Review and Q&A (learn if I like pie better than cake) - International
Dec. 11th - Paranormal Urban Fantasy Reviews - Review
Dec. 12th - Read Now Sleep Later - Q&A podcast (find out what's in store for the new Study book) - International
Dec. 13th - The Book Heroine - Review
Dec. 14th - We Fancy Books - Playlist (find out the music I listen to while writing) - International

Also the UK office produced a fantastic video book trailer to promote the book.  You can watch it here: http://youtu.be/m8th2dPWMa0

And the Australian office did a video interview with me that you can watch.  Note - the lighting in my office was horrible (didn't notice when filming), but aside from that, it's a nice interview.  Here's the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhJYScnmV7E

And next week's Blog Tour line up is:

Dec. 17th - Two Chicks on Books - Belen POV post
Dec. 18th - The Starry-Eyed Review - Guest Post - International
Dec. 19th - A Great Read - Review
Dec. 20th - YA Reads - Guest Post - International
Dec. 21st - The Book Hookup - Review

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

EXCLUSIVE SCENT OF MAGIC BOOK TRAILER!

Yes, lots of shouty capitals - but the UK office of MIRA Books just posted a brilliant video trailer for SCENT OF MAGIC.  They produced the one for TOUCH OF POWER last year and this one is just as fabulous!  It's just a one minute video to help promote the book.

Have a look and tell me what you think!

http://youtu.be/m8th2dPWMa0 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

10 Chances to Win - Scent of Magic Blog Tour!



Well the title pretty much sums it up - I'm promoting the soon-to-be released SCENT OF MAGIC, book 2 in my Healer Series.  It's due out December 18th in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia/New Zealand.  The Blog tour has a number of fun posts - A guest post by Belen being one, and my Christmas traditions being another.  There will be reviews, an interview, a podcast and a chance to win a free copy of SCENT OF MAGIC at every stop.  A couple blogs will be open to international readers for a chance to win.

Here's the line up:

Dec. 10th - Parajunkee - Review and Q&A
Dec. 11th - Paranormal Urban Fantasy Reviews - Review
Dec. 12th - Read Now Sleep Later - Q&A podcast
Dec. 13th - The Book Heroine - Review
Dec. 14th - We Fancy Books - Playlist

Dec. 17th - Two Chicks on Books - Belen POV
Dec. 18th - The Starry-Eyed Review - Guest Post
Dec. 19th - A Great Read - Review
Dec. 20th - YA Reads - Guest Post
Dec. 21st - The Book Hookup - Review


For more information you can go to: http://www.rockstarbooktours.com/2012/11/tour-schedule-scent-of-magic-blog-tour.html  Rock Star Book Tours.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Farm Author Interview + Giveaways!

It is my pleasure to introduce to you Emily McKay, author of THE FARM.  It's a YA post-apocalyptic story with these creatures called Ticks (very similar to vampires).  She asked me to read her book back in the summer for a cover blurb and I LOVED it!  My blurb was something like this: Be prepared to stay up all night - I did!  The main characters, Lily and Mel are very unique and likable.  The plot is different enough to stand out among the current wave of dystopians/post-apocalyptic novels.

Below is a fascinating interview with Emily and she is also offering two prizes as giveaways.  One is a signed copy of THE FARM and the other is a Vampire Apocalypse Survival Kit.  The giveaway is open to everyone (yes, including international).  To enter, post a comment to this blog by December 11th, 11:59 p.m. EST and please include an email addy so we can contact you!


Here's the cover copy: Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race...

Take 10 with Emily McKay!

 1.)   Where did you get the idea for THE FARM?
 
 I was sitting in a workshop about world building at a writer's conference and I was thinking about this basic inconsistency in many vampire stories. If they're really stronger, faster, smarter than us, then why are they the ones who are hiding? Why not just take over and farm us as food? 
 
Of course, it took me a couple of years to get from that spark of an idea to an actual story that made sense, but that was the spark. 
 
2.) THE FARM is an unique post-apocalyptic story for YAs while your previous novels are romances for adults. Why did you switch? 
 
Don't laugh, but I think there's actually a common thread between romance novels and a lot of post apocalyptic fiction. Obviously, I've always loved reading and writing romance novels. Romance novels are the most optimistic of all fiction and also the most intimate.  [I didn't laugh - it's true!]
 
But I've also always been drawn to post apocalyptic stories. The Postman by David Brin is one of my all time favorite books. There's a sort of basic optimism in many post apocalyptic books (not all, but a lot). They're stories of humanity sinking to the absolute depths, but rising out of those depths to carry on. There's a powerful message of love and hope in the very idea that there will be a post apocalypse, that there will be anything after. Of course, to me the most interesting aspect of the apocalypse is how we take care of the people we love as things are falling apart. What kind of sacrifices we're willing to make to for others.
 
I had known for years that someday I wanted to tell a post apocalyptic story, I just needed to find the right setting. And then, of course, I added in lots of scary monsters, dramatic sacrifices and a hot guy. :-) With THE FARM, I got to play around in all the sandboxes I love best. 
 
3.) What do you find most interesting about Lily and Mel?
 
I loved exploring all the emotions that comes with a sisterly relationship, especial one where one sister is so dependant on the other. There’s so much love there, but frustration and resentment on both sides. I loved exploring how their relationship shifted and changed throughout the story.
 
As much as I love writing short contemporary romance, that’s one thing you never get to touch on. There’s just not room to deal with characters other than the hero and heroine. So that was a lot of fun for me. 
 
4.) What else do you enjoy doing besides writing? Interests? Hobbies?
 
I love cooking and baking. Mostly baking. My sister and I joke that baking is an outlet for our OCD. It keeps us both sane. With baking, there’s so much safety. You know if you follow the recipe to the letter, you’ll get great results. It’s kind of the opposite of writing. In writing, there’s infinite space to play—but also to fail. You mix together the ingredients and you have no idea how the product will turn out. With baking, you know the right amount of sugar, flour and eggs will yield chocolate chip cookies. I love that about it!  [Yum cookies!]
 
5.) Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you learn that you didn't know before?
 
I did a fair amount of research on autism. I read some books by famed autistic savant Temple Grandin as well as mathematic savant Daniel Tammet. I did research on synesthesia, which is a neurological condition where people experience their senses in some unique way. For example there are people who perceive numbers as having a color or shape. Some people with synesthesia experience sounds or music visually. Synesthesia fascinated me and I decided to use it for Mel. I wanted Mel’s synesthesia to be something that helped her cope with the world and something that would give the reader insight into her mind. So Mel perceives people’s emotions as noise, sometimes even music.
 
There are some sixty different forms of synesthesia. I’m pretty sure, that none of the real forms of synesthesia are like Mel’s (though, of course, it’s possible).  I figured, I’m writing in a world where vampires are real, why not make up my own twist on a real neurological condition? The other paranormal elements in the story gave me the latitude to play around with how I wanted Mel’s autism and synesthesia to present.
 
6.)  How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself  growing up to be? Or did it take you by surprise?
 
I knew when I was seven that I wanted to tell stories for a living. I don’t think at the time that I even understood that books were written by writers. I was an extremely late reader. I didn’t read at grade level until the ninth grade. So when I was seven and knew I wanted to tell stories for a living, I didn’t have any idea what being a writer was. I couldn’t even read yet! I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.
 
7.) Which authors inspire you? Has that changed over time?
 
I think all authors inspire me. Obviously there are great authors whose books I love. Writers who just create these amazing worlds that you completely lose yourself in, like J.K. Rowling and Orson Scott Card and Ann Brashear and, of course, you. (I know that sounds like I’m brown nosing, but it’s true!) [Awww...thanks!] For me, one of the signs that a writer is awesome in when I start dreaming about his or her book as I’m reading it. It’s like their world is so complete and so huge, my brain can’t even take it all in during the day. I need extra time to process it. Those are the kinds of books and authors that inspire me.
 
And then of course there are all the writers that are part of my circle of friends. They inspire me in different ways. Not only do I love their books, but I see how hard they work. Knowing how much work they put in really raises the bar. It makes me go the extra mile as a writer.
 
8.) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?
 
It’s best for me if I write every day. I find my brain stays in the story that way. I usually write in the morning, after I get back from taking my son to school, then again in the evening after everyone else is asleep. The hours from about 2:00 to 9:00 are family time, the rest of the time I’m usually doing something writing related.
 
I write a pretty sloppy first draft and then revise a lot. I wish I could say I was one of those writers that writes the first draft quickly. Unfortunately, for me, the first draft is usually slow and painful, with a lot of wrong turns. Once the draft is done, I usually trim a lot and then add in a lot more, in addition to just general massaging.
 
THE FARM is a pretty long book (just over 110,000 words), but I cut at least 20,000 words in the final stage of revising. I’ve had friends say, “Oh, well, you should put those cut scenes up on your website because readers might be interested.” Um … no. I’m sure no one would be interested. When I cut all those words at the end, I’m trimming out all the times the characters have the same conversation five different times because I wasn’t sure when they needed to have  it. Or the times they have a five page long conversation about something not interesting at all, like soup or acorn squash or squirrels. I’m not kidding. I’ve actually trimmed convos about all of those things out of my books. And nobody needs to read a two page discussion about soup. [They might if it's interesting enough :)]
 
So that’s my process in a nut shell. I wish it was faster or more fun or cooler, but it’s not. As writers, I think it’s very important to be willing to try new things, but at the same, we’re kind of stuck with how our brain creates. But I love talking process and hearing about other people’s process, so thanks for asking! [You're welcome]
 
9.) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write?  A favorite?
 
I write all over the house. I have an office, and I write there sometimes, but I also write on the sofa, at the kitchen table, in bed, on the front porch and sitting at the foot of my kids’ beds as they fall asleep at night. And that’s in addition to writing at coffee shops.
 
10.) What are you writing now?  What's coming out next?
 
I’m working on two projects right now. First off is the sequel to THE FARM, which is tentatively titled THE LAIR. That will be out next year. I’m also playing around with a prequel novella called THE BEFORE. That will be available briefly on my website as a free read and then as a prize people can earn if they join my Green Team. http://www.escapethefarm.com/green-teams/
 
Thanks for the great answers, Emily.  Your new projects sound very interesting!
 
Links to all things Emily and THE FARM:
 
Websites:
 
Facebook:
 
Twitter:
@Emily_Mc_Kay

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Favorite Minor Characters

I did another giveaway for an early copy of SCENT OF MAGIC for those commenting on their favorite minor/obscure character from one of my books.  The response was wonderful and I thought I'd give away a book to one of my blog readers and to one of my Goodreads friends.

Congratulations to Rywn who won a copy and to Rachel on Goodreads who also won a copy!!  Keep checking my blog as I'm doing a 10 day blog tour starting December 10th and we're giving away 10 copies of SCENT OF MAGIC!!

The results for favorite minor/obscure character are in:
#1 Fisk - 14 (He first appeared in MAGIC STUDY)
#2 Kiki - 9
#3 Belen - 8
Rand - 7
Pazia - 5
Logan, Reema, Moon Man, Leif, Mom, Flea, Nutty - 3
Dax, Mara, Sheepy, Fire Warper, Death Lilys, Noelle, Dilana, Commander, Perl, Zitora - 2
Bain, Irys, Alethea, Maren, Tula, Esau, Quartz, Cog, Eve, Nic, Heli - 1

And just for fun - Can anyone tell me which book Beevan appears in?  He's a very obscure character :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Favorite Characters

I had a celebration and give away over on my Facebook Author Page last week, celebrating hitting 4000 likes.  Pretty exciting for me and I asked people to leave a comment on who their favorite character was from one of my books.  The response was overwhelming (yay!) and I tallied the "votes" and thought I share with my blog readers.

I also thought, since I have a box of SCENT OF MAGIC books sitting in my office, I'd offer a signed copy to a random commenter on my blog.  Now this time I want to know who your favorite obscure/minor character of mine is :)  Contest open until November 23 - and please leave a contact email so I can notify you if you win (Goodreads friends you don't need to put your email - I can find you :)

Favorite Characters of my Facebook Readers:

#1 Valek - 236
#2 Yelena - 151
#3 Ari and Janco - 65
Avry - 39
Opal - 37
Trella - 23
Belen - 11
Devlen - 10
Kade, Leif & Kiki - 9
Kerrick - 8
Moon Man - 6
Flea - 5
The Commander - 4
Fisk & Sheepy - 2
Riley, Ava, Heli & Tohon - 1



Saturday, November 3, 2012

Super Ginormous News

For those who don't subscribe to my email newsletter and aren't on Facebook, then here's something you might not have heard about :)



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Five Books that Changed Me

When I was in Australia last year a newspaper wanted to know what five books changed me.  I thought this was a very difficult question - so many books influenced me over the years, but after much thought I came up with this list:

Frederick by Leo Lionni - this story is one of the first books I remember my mother reading to me. It's about a family of five field mice getting ready for the winter. Four of the mice work hard to collect enough food, but one, Fredrick doesn't help out at all. He's too busy collecting daydreams. The story taught me that a daydreamer does have a place in a family.

Risk by Dick Francis - before finding this book when I was fourteen, I'd been reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys mysteries. While I enjoyed them, they were starting to get predictable. Risk, was an entirely different mystery. Written in first person point of view, the action didn't stop and I could never close the book at the end of the chapter. This fast-paced story telling influenced my own writing as I use first person point of view and try to end each chapter with a cliffhanger.

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin - after reading nothing but mysteries for all my life, my future brother-in-law, Chris gave me this book to read when I was seventeen so I could "try something different." The story about a man whose dreams could change the world astounded me and hooked me into reading science fiction novels.

A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony - this book introduced me to the fantasy genre. At first I had a difficult time wrapping my mind around a fantastical world that didn't exist in our world or in any time in history. But it didn't take me long to "catch on," and I was soon reading Tolkien and all the classics.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt - I almost put this book down after a few pages because the Irish dialect was distracting. But a friend encouraged me to keep reading and I'm glad I did. This book opened my eyes to the suffering of others and just how good my life is. No one in our world should go hungry and since reading this book, I've been very active with our local food bank and donating money to international organizations that help feed those in need.


What book had a big influence on you?  I'd love to hear which book and why!

Friday, October 19, 2012

I Love My Job :)

Way back when I was an aspiring novelist, I dreamed of being published and of having a book on a shelf (yes, this was before eBooks and no, I'm not telling you how long ago ;).  And that was the dream -a  book on a shelf in a bookstore.  My daydreams did not include readers, reviewers or awards - yes, I knew they existed, but the goal was that physical book.

So when Publisher's Weekly gave Poison Study a Starred Review seven years ago, I was surprised they read the book and then disappointed because on Amazon one star is bad.  My editor quickly explained one Star was an excellent rating for PW and that, yes people ARE going to read my book and it won't just sit on that shelf and gather dust.  I still wasn't convinced until...

Readers started emailing me.  Yay!  I loved and still love getting reader emails - yes, even the ones "yelling" at me for various nasty plot twists ;>

Here are some great Reader quotes: 

Thank you so much for your writing, it pretty much makes my life :D Carly

My mother even threatened to take my book away if I didn't walk the dog- that is how addicting your books are!  Jez

When I first picked it up at my local bookstore I thought it sounded kind of neat, but not the most exciting thing ever. I am more than happy to say how wrong I was about that opinion. Inside Out blew me away and completely exceeded my expectations. Seth

...so surprised by how much I fell in love with this world and Yelena and obviously Valek. I just wanted to say thank you for writing such an amazing story that I just can't seem to get enough of and they've all given me a good book hangover ;-)  Amanda

A good book hangover - I like!  


Then my books were picked as finalists in various awards from the Romance Writers of America to the Baltimore Science Fiction Society - from libraries to schools.  So gratifying that not only did they enjoy my books, but they deemed them award worthy.

And amazingly some of my books WON!  Talk about exciting!  When I learned Poison Study won the Compton Crook Award, I screamed and ran around my house like a crazy lady.  Never thought I was the type to do THAT!

Prior to that award, I never won anything or more importantly, been recognized for doing good :)  I wasn't a stand out student or musician, actress or dancer.  I wasn't a stand out worker when I worked as an environmental meteorologist. 

I don't write books to win awards, to get reader emails, or for positive reviews - I write because it's fun and I've met a ton of great people and made new friends all over the world.  I write because...well...because I can do it well and because I love it!


top picture: Touch of Power and the Golden Leaf award for best Paranormal.
bottom picture: Outside In and the Prism Award for best Young Adult novel.

Friday, October 12, 2012

It's Here! UK cover art and news from AU.

This just in - the paint's a little wet so be careful not to smudge it ;>  Cover art for SCENT OF MAGIC for the UK edition.  Which will be released 18 December 2012.

So?  What do you think?  I love the colors and there are some really neat elements.  But...white?  Not the uniform I imagined, but it's eye catching, which is what the cover art is supposed to do -get the book noticed.

If you like to read the first chapter of SCENT OF MAGIC here's a link:  http://www.mariavsnyder.com/books/som.php  I don't have it linked to my website yet - I'm working on updating my website this weekend.

Also any bloggers/reviews the ARC is up on Netgalley - you have to be approved to access it.  Please only download if you're planning to post a review - my son starts university next year ;>

For my Australian readers, I now have the cover for SCENT OF MAGIC thanks to Braiden Asciak who managed to get the cover before I did *insert mini rant here* :)

And here it is:


I also have the new TOUCH OF POWER cover.  My Australian publishers are going to re-issue TOUCH OF POWER in December 2012 and then publish SCENT OF MAGIC in January 2013.

Here's the new TOP cover for AU:


This is the original cover:



So?  What do you think of the AU covers?  I like them both - it reminds me of my Study AU books with the black background (see below).  

 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Darkbeast Author Interview + Giveaway!

I'm excited to have an interview with Morgan Keyes, the author of the middle-grade book, DARKBEAST!  It's a wonderful book and I recommend it for ALL ages.  Don't be fooled by the title - it's not scary.  And those of you familiar with Mindy Klasky's writing might recognize a similar style and humor (hint, hint ;>)

And I'm offering a copy of DARKBEAST to one random commenter - BUT you have to take the Darkbeast quiz  (http://www.morgankeyes.com/?page_id=17)  and tell us what your Darkbeast is in the comment to win!!  Also please include your email addy so I can get in touch with you. The contest is open until Friday, September 28th at midnight Eastern time.  See the interview below to find out MY Darkbeast.

Cover copy: In Keara’s world, every child has a darkbeast—a creature that takes dark deeds and emotions like anger, pride, and rebellion. Keara’s darkbeast is Caw, a raven. Caw is her constant companion, and they are magically bound to each other until Keara’s 12th birthday. For on that day Keara must kill her darkbeast—that is the law. Refusing to kill a darkbeast is an offense to the gods, and such heresy is harshly punished by the feared Inquisitors.

Though Keara struggles to follow the rules, she cannot imagine life without Caw. And she finds herself drawn to the Travelers, actors who tour the country performing revels. Keara is fascinated by the Travelers’ mysterious plays, with their hints of a grand life beyond her tiny village. As her birthday approaches, Keara readies herself to leave childhood—and Caw—behind forever. But when the time comes for the sacrifice, will she be able to kill the creature that is so close to her? And if she cannot, where will she turn, how can she hide from the Inquisitors?

A single decision could ripple outward and change Keara’s life—and perhaps her world—forever in this gripping story that comes straight from the heart.

Take 10 with Morgan Keyes:

1. I’m guessing from your recent newsletter you’re not hiding the fact that your doppelganger is Mindy Klasky. Why did you decide to write under a pseudonym? And how did you pick the name?

The last two books that Mindy Klasky published were romances that fell on the rather, um, spicy side of the menu. When my editor and I started talking about the middle grade market for DARKBEAST, we decided that a pseudonym would be a good idea – it would make it just a bit harder for really young readers to find the Klasky books that might be too much for them to handle.

My editor wanted me to choose a name that had no social media footprint. I wanted to use my initials. We went through several dozen names before we found a name that worked – it also had to be relatively short (to fit on the cover of the book) and relatively easy to remember (so that readers can share their find with other readers). Voila, Morgan Keyes!

2. DARKBEAST is considered a middle-grade novel (ages 10+). What made you decide to write for this age group?

In the short story that was the basis for DARKBEAST, the main character was sixteen years old. That story was published in 2005 – just before the current boom in rather grim young adult fiction.

DARKBEAST is not as dark as the current YA market – there's no sex, no strong language, no graphic depictions of violence. While Keara has friends, she does not have a romantic relationship. All of those factors pointed toward a younger audience. Thus, Keara became eleven-going-on-twelve, and DARKBEAST became a middle grade novel!

(I did not change my vocabulary, the themes, or the plot of the book in any way, even after the 10-and-up label was slapped on the book!)

3. So dish about these Darkbeasts. I thought they were a wonderful creation and wish I had one when I was younger. How did you come up with the idea?

I've always loved the idea of animal companions – I was horse crazy when I was a girl, and I grew up with dogs and cats in the house. I even had an imaginary lion who sat on my shoulder and told me secrets when I was very young. [Cool! I had two imaginary friends]

Therefore, Caw and the other darkbeasts came naturally to me. The novel, then, grew out of my thinking about how difficult it is to grow up and to set aside some of the things we most love. I wanted to force Keara to make the most difficult decision of her life!

4. Did you have trouble picking the title of this story? When I heard “Darkbeast” I thought scary things, but then I saw the cover and knew it wasn’t going to be horror.

I've enjoyed playing with some of the traditional images of "dark" and "light" in this book – darkbeasts, which are all black, are allies of our heroine; the Inquisitors who try to track down and punish Keara are all clad in white. Keara is constantly being asked to reevaluate her assumptions – and my readers are too!

5. And why am I not surprised to see a traveling theater company in this book? ;> What draws you to this element again? Were you an aspiring actress in your youth?

I've always been fascinated with the way the theater allows people to put on real and figurative masks. That sort of manipulating reality allows characters to express things that they otherwise might never have the nerve to say out loud.

The last time I was on-stage was when I played Queen Isabella in my fourth grade class's Columbus Day play. I stage managed plays, though, through high school and college, and I once considered making stage management my full-time career. I see about a dozen plays a year at local theaters – more if I can make the time!

6. The story has Twelve gods and stories about them. How did you keep track of everyone? How important will the Twelve be in the future?

When I started writing the novel, I kept notes in my computer files, reminding myself about the attributes of each god, along with the characteristics of their godhouse, etc. After a while, the notes started to take over the file, so I moved everything over to a wiki (an online encyclopedia). I figured that other people might be interested in looking up those details as they read the book! You can see the Darkbeast Encyclopedia here: https://sites.google.com/site/darkbeastnovels/home

The Twelve continue to be important in Keara's world. As Keara begins to see the consequences of her choices, the Twelve become more present in her day-to-day life.

7. I noticed that your schedule this fall is jam packed. How do you balance promotion, writing, sleep, and your personal life?

Sleep? I don't remember what that word means! :)

It is a challenge to stay organized. I use an electronic calendar, color-coded to show Writing, Personal, Family, and Household activities. ("Family" covers activities with my family; "Household" covers chores around the house.) I also have an extensive list of electronic reminders, with constantly changing due dates, so that I stay on top of things. [Wow, that's really organized - maybe I should start doing that!]

Weekdays are fair game for anything writing related. While I try to get my work done during a normal workday (8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.), I work into the evenings if I haven't completed my goals. I try to keep weekends free so that my family doesn't forget who I am!

8. I took the personality quiz on your website for readers to discover their darkbeasts (so fun!). My darkbeast is a Raven – what’s yours?

My darkbeast is a Snake. I had a lot of fun putting together the Darkbeast Quiz – and I get to laugh when some people get out of sorts about what the quiz tells them. [Here's that link to find yours: http://www.morgankeyes.com/?page_id=17]

9. How long did it take you to write DARKBEAST?

Well, I wrote the short story about eight years ago. Several times, I considered expanding DARKBEAST into a novel, but I didn't start to work on that until 2010. When I finally put fingers to keyboard, it took me about four months to actually draft the novel – lots of long days of doing nothing but writing. After that, my publisher took about one and a half years creating the final book that you can read today.

So, I can say that it took me four months, or a little less than two years, or eight years!

10. So…the next book – tell us! What’s it about and when is it due out?

I just completed the edits on DARKBEAST REBELLION, a sequel to DARKBEAST. It should be in stores in 2013. (I don't know the specific date yet, but I'll announce the news on my website – http://www.morgankeyes.com -- when I do find out!)

Maria, many, many thanks for letting me visit today (and for asking such interesting questions!)
[You're welcome!  Any time Mindy...er Morgan ;>]

Links!
Morgan Keyes: http://www.morgankeyes.com
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=1442442050/courtneymilan-20
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/darkbeast-morgan-keyes/1107394056?ean=9781442442054
Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781442442054?aff=courtneymilan

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Ahh-Mazing Weekend Part 1

Last weekend my husband had a number of events to attend for his job (historical chocolate manager for M&M/Mars) and I happily tagged along.  One of those events was a NASCAR race - the one in Richmond, Virginia on Saturday, September 8.  Well, I'm not a NASCAR fan - football is my sport, however, I like to experience new things and this invite wasn't just a couple of seats in the bleachers.  Oh no!  You see Mars sponsors Kyle Busch's car - #18 and we had full access to...well, everything.

 Rodney, Kyle & Me before the start of the race - Kyle a LOT happier then at the end :(

Rodney and Joe Gibbs - owner of Kyle's car. 

Before the race, I did a bunch of reading about the Sprint Cup and how only the top twelve can race for the championship (Kyle missed it by 1 point!), but I learned so much during my day at the races.  First, there is a ton of effort in getting the car ready - there's a sense of urgency and little time to waste from the crew - but it's not all work as there were plenty of TV screens, showing college football and plenty of food! 

Inside the trailer, I discovered a number of surprises.  I expected the drawers and cabinets full of spare parts, but I didn't expect the "spare" car to be parked above our heads - or for there to be so many computers.  One was just dedicated to keeping track of the weather - storms were coming - we hoped they'd miss us, but we had a rain delay and I watched the big jet engine type dryers dry the surface in an hour.


Spare car on second floor of trailer.

Tools inside trailer

Crew Chief on left and his crew in trailer's office (working and watching football)

The rush to prep the car.

Prepping Tires

When the race started, we hung out in the pit - well, we kept out of the way - I didn't want to slow anyone down.  I must say the pit stops were the most exciting but hard to watch - just as I'd focus on one guy, he'd be done with his task.  The fuel man wore a flame-resistant apron, a helmet with a visor and heavy gloves and I noticed a spray of gasoline when he yanked it out so Kyle could race off.  Then after a stop, four guys would intently crouch over the used tires, with a torch and examine them, burning off...I wasn't sure what (anyone know?). I guessed they were examining the wear and how pitted the tires were.

Pit Stop #2

The front of the pit.

Fuel tanks.

I was fascinated with the whole process, and there's so much more involved than a driver going in circles on a track.  When the engines started, it was very loud (thank fate for ear-protection) and the vibrations from the cars rumbled deep in my chest.  Talking and being heard were impossible when the cars were at full speed.  I thought it funny that the pit crew watched the race on the huge monitor in the middle of the track - but their body language made it clear when they were getting close to a pit stop and for me to move out of the way. 

Oh and the TV doesn't do the speeds justice - it's hard to get a sense of how fast they're really going when watching on TV, but when they rip by you at 150 + mph, it sends an little impact/energy wave right into you.  I don't know if I'm going to become a die-hard fan of racing, but yesterday I kept flipping between the Eagles/Ravens football game (Eagles won - Yay!) to the race in Chicago.

If you noticed I titled this Part 1 - and you're probably thinking what else I did that was Ahh-Mazing - well it has to do with an event at the State Department in Washington, DC.  I'm waiting on pictures - so stay tuned for Part 2!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Oooohhhh Pretty...Come and See....

...my new look.  Not me, me (no purple hair...yet!), but my blog.  My fabulous, talented, sweet friend Sarah put this together for me.  I love it - it includes many of my favorite things.  Travel, writing and tea!  I'm sipping some now - English Breakfast decaf ;>

Sooooo...... What do you think?

I'm hoping the new look will help motivate me to blog more - I do have ideas and posts ready to be assembled (pictures uploaded, links found, etc...).  Time will tell :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ugh...Trying to get Motivated....Really!


Well the one problem with having such a wonderful and relaxing vacation is coming home and getting back into the groove.  I don't think I'm there yet.  As you can see by the month-long lag in my blogs, I've haven't been motivated to do much writing.

So what have I've been doing?  Driving my daughter around to volleyball practice (she made the high school team), band practice (she plays the flute for the marching band), and to friends houses (she's trying to squeeze every little bit of summer vacation in before school starts on Monday).

Celebrating - OUTSIDE IN won the Prism Award in the YA category!! (And I'd thought I'd come in third again :)

Going to YA events - I was at the YA FEST in Easton on August 4 and had a blast.  I'll be at PAYA Festival this Saturday the 25th, signing from 2 to 3 p.m.  It's in West Chester, PA - here's a link to the event: http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/424728464243967/ 

Doing interviews and writing guest blogs. I'll post them when I can. One interview and giveaway is up now at saz101:  http://saz101.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/aaa-q-with-maria-v-snyder-giveaway.html

Procrastinating - my dad asked me how many total books I've sold and curious I added up the numbers from my 9 books from all over the world in both print and electronic format.  From Oct 2005 to Dec 2011, 821,010 books were sold.  Not bad.   

Working on revisions to STORM WATCHER.  Did you get my email newsletter at the end of July?  Check your spam folder if you didn't. The book is aimed for readers ages 8 to 14 years old, and will be published by Leap Books. The same publisher who put together the SPIRITED anthology. 

Here's a synopsis for the book: Luke Riley is lost. His mother's recent death has set Luke and his family adrift. Even though his father, twin brothers, and their three bloodhounds are search and rescue volunteers, they have been unable to rescue themselves and become a family again. The summer after sixth grade looms in Luke's mind as a long, lonely three months where the only thing he can look forward to is watching The Weather Channel. Luke is fascinated with the weather, but since his mother's death in a storm, he is also terrified. Even the promised 13th birthday present of a bloodhound puppy fails to lift Luke's spirits. He would rather have a different breed - a papillon, but his father insists he get a Bloodhound.

When Luke decides he wants a bloodhound from Willajean, a dog breeder who owns Storm Watcher Kennel, he works out a deal to help at her kennel in exchange for the expensive dog. Thrilled to have a summer with a purpose, Luke befriends Willajean's daughter, Megan and together they plan how Luke can get a papillon puppy instead of a bloodhound.

Revisions have been extensive - I'm a much stronger writer now that when I first wrote this so it needs a LOT of work  ;)  I'm not sure when it'll be released - probably sometime in 2013.   Once I finish STORM WATCHER, I'm going to start writing, TASTE OF DEATH, book 3 of the Healer series.  My son asks me daily if I've started TOD yet!  I think he liked the other two - the fact he wanted to read SCENT OF MAGIC while it was still in manuscript format told me lots :)I hope to get back into blogging at least once a week.  I have some author interviews and a Q&A with my editor that I want to post so stay tuned!

Friday, July 20, 2012

What I did on Vacation

I'm back after almost three weeks at the beach.  It was a wonderfully relaxing time and the only compliant I have about my vacation is....it ended!

So what exactly did I do, you ask?  I slept - I caught up on sleep and nap when ever I felt like it!


I sat on my beach chair...a lot.  I don't surf or skim board or fish so my time on the sands was either spent sitting or napping or swimming.  We like to wait and go to the beach after 4 pm to avoid the heat, sunburns, and the crowds.  The downside is the lifeguards go home at 5 pm, but the upside, I did meet a few friends - the sand crabs (not sure that's their official name) come out at twilight and were fun to watch skitter sideways around on the sand.

I caught up on my pile of magazines, and I read a stack of books.  Here's a list of the books I finished:
Six books might not be a lot for some readers, but for me - it's a record :) To read my reviews of these books, go to my Goodreads page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/445303.Maria_V_Snyder

I created - not with words as my family was very adamant that I not write while on vacation.  But my good friend Judi came for a few days and we made Gourdaments - they look like glass x-mas ornaments, but they're really painted gourds.  Pretty cool!  And I also made two necklaces, and three pair of earrings and got my sister addicted to making jewelry.



I visited with my extended family.  My parents came for a few days and my sister and her boys came, too.

I watched a LOT of DVDs - which I don't do at home.  I mostly watched season 2 of The Big Bang Theory (love this show - it appeals to my inner scientist geek), and season 2 of Deadliest Catch (don't know why I enjoy this show, but I do).

I took photographs.  I went out around sunset to get the best light.  No - I don't do sunrises - I haven't seen a sunrise since I landed in Sydney, Australia last August ;>


And there was some biking on the boardwalk, walks on the beach, shopping at the outlets, dining out, and skeet ball, too.

All in all a perfect vacation for relaxing.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

To Do List...Done! On Vacation...Finally!

So I managed to cross off all the items I listed in my Massive To Do list in May - my goal was to get them done in time for my beach vacation and I made it!  Woo Hoo!!

Here's the list: 
  • Revise SCENT OF MAGIC  Done - My editor is excited about the revisions! Pub date: Dec 27, 2012
  • Write a short story for THE BEST LAID PLANS anthology Done. Title: Brand Spanking New. It has returned with editorial comments - revisions are needed.
  • Write a travel article about Australia for b Magazine Done.
  • Write a synopsis for TASTE OF DEATH (bk 3 in the Healer series) Done. (I really like the way this book develops - a new nasty comes into play called the Skeleton King - he's mention in Touch of Power - does anyone remember?).  Comments came back from my agent - revisions are needed.
  • Write a synopsis for another series to be written after Taste Of Death. Done - I only wrote the synopsis for book 1 since I'm a seat of the pants writer and have no idea what book 2 and 3 will be :) Comments came back from my agent - revisions are needed.
  • Prep for talk for the Valley Forge Romance Writers Done.
  • Present to VFRW Done. The ladies were lovely and such a fun group. Thanks for lunch!
  • Attend the Book Expo in NYC in June Done. Had a great time - signed a book for Dr. Ruth!! 
  • Prep for Seton Hill's residency (I'm teaching two classes) and writer's conference (I'm leading one workshop) Done.
  • Attend SHU's residency and writer's conference. Done! Always a super fun time at SHU - a very creative and supportive group of writers.  The Great Gatsby Ball with a twist was a blast - I can't wait to see what the theme is for next year!
And now I'm on vacation in Delaware at the beach - my favorite place to hang out and relax. Today I organzied all my beads by color and pendants by theme so I'm all set when I have the bug to make some jewelry - so much fun ;> (photo from my trip to New Zealand last year - a gorgeous black sand beach!)

Of course there are those to do items that have returned - revisions for the TOD synopsis, New Series synopsis, and for Brand Spanking New. Plus all the other tasks that need to be done.....oh, well - they can wait!

So where's your favorite vacation spot?






Monday, June 25, 2012

The Power in a Reader's Touch Part 4

This is the last of Bri's posts. Bri - Thanks so much for providing this informative series of posts on how much power a reader has!

Amazon Tagging
By Bri Clark



Well reader dears I have had a wonderful time sharing my little how tos into the power you hold. If you happen to miss Part I, Part II, or Part III just click the highlighted parts. 

Now for the last part into the power you hold it’s tagging…specifically Amazon tagging. The point of tagging is similar to the thought behind a Google search. You type a specific word or phrase and those items come up.

So say you are on Amazon and you type in “YA Fantasy” or “Young Adult” in the search bar if Maria’s books have been tagged a lot with these phrases then her books will pop up. The same thing goes for her name…”Maria V. Snyder”

On Amazon, each person is allowed up to 15 tag words or phrases. You’ll need to have an Amazon account and be signed in of course.

Here are the tag words and areas for Touch of Power. Notice some of the words that have been used. The one that says Maria V Snyder is the only appropriate one I think. And because I really want her sales to go up I’m going to add these tag words. I invite you to as well. Here’s the link.

Side note: all you’ll have to do is copy & paste them into that little column that says “Your Tags” then hit add.

Maria V Snyder, Young Adult, YA, YA Fantasy, YA romance, YA adventure, Kindle best seller, YA best seller.

And when her sales go up she makes more money and therefore writes more books. Which I think we all will agree we want. That’s it reader dears.

Well that does it. If you have any ideas yourself please share them below. And when you have time tag and review all of Maria’s books. I’m sure she would appreciate it. I know I would. 

About Bri...
No stranger to adversity there are three things that make Bri Clark the ultimate womenpreneur. Failure, Work Ethic, Ambition, Strategy She works as a strategist, author and speaker as well as a consultant and promoter for multiple publishers. After moving to Boise from Tennessee she was quickly dubbed “The Belle of Boise” for her hospitable nature, forward attitude, and sassy nature.


Friday, June 22, 2012

The Power in a Reader's Touch Part 3

This time the extended delay is my fault (and bloggers - I had it set to post on Wednesday - but it didn't!). Bri sent me parts 3 (this one has PRIZES!) and 4 and so I'll post Part 4 in a couple days.

Review Formatting
By Bri Clark
Oh…wow dear readers it would seem I’m late yet again. [and I made it later - sorry!]  My apologies. However, my excuse is most valid. I’ve recently been inducted into the the Women’s Speaking Association. It’s a truly wonderful accomplishment but in order to capitalize on it I had to do a lot!! But I digress. [Congrats Bri!!!  I hope the Global Women's Summit goes well (or went well - you said June, but not the date :)]

So here is the 3rd installment of the power you amazing readers have. If you missed Part I or Part II well they are highlighted for a reason hun. ;)

Today I’m going to show you the suggested formatting for a review. There is no set in stone too short, too long, or in between for a review. This is just the way I personally have found works best.

Title
• Hero Name
• Heroine Name
• Author’s Name
• Climax: What part of the story really, really seemed the most dramatic?
Favorite part: That part looking back that you just adored.
Worst part: The part where you didn’t want to keep reading but had to know what happened.
Ending: You don’t have to give a spoiler…just express if you were satisfied.
Star Rating: How many stars would you give it?





I’d suggest that when you begin to read a book that you use a piece of post it or paper as the book mark and write these points down. Personally, I had cards made and I hand them out at events or as swag.

In fact I’ll send a set to two lucky commenter’s. All they need to do is leave their name and email address below. I’ll randomly pick two and contact you to get your mailing address.


Tune in next week [in a couple days] when I explain what tagging is. Thanks for having me on Maria. You are a truly exceptional hostess.  [Awwwwww *blushing*]